In today's fast moving business world, especially highly competitive fields like technology, digital, consumer good and very consumer driven businesses where people are fighting daily for customer growth, there are often trends or fads that seem to take hold. Sometimes these trends stick, often they die off quickly.  The latest corporate trend in the C-suite is the role of “Chief Growth Officer” or “CGO”. This position has been making headlines as of late, however, this is not the first time we have seen or heard of this role. Is a CGO a real job? Or is this the latest “organic product” of the week?

A CGO, by definition, is accountable and responsible to ensure the company “grows”.  This could be measured in revenue, or user/subscriber base or equivalent. In massive global enterprises like Coca Cola, the Chief Growth Officer role has taken the place of the CMO role. In this type of large corporate environment, the role is not meant to replace the marketing function, but instead help to achieve growth through additional strategies beyond advertising.

If you read my most recent article on CEO's , you would know that CEO's have a lot of balancing to do. In Growth Equity Companies - a CGO is taking some of the load off of a CEO.  In large established enterprises, a CGO is often a title used to replace or subsidize the work of a CMO - either way the role is nothing new - it has been around in the past,  but is coming back around again as companies in highly competitive industries fight for revenue growth. In theory, a great CGO will have many of the same athletic capabilities of a great CEO in a growth equity company - making them versatile and capable of overseeing several areas and methods to generate revenue growth.  For example - business development and partnership channels in addition to traditional and digital marketing channels. 

Collaborate, Measure and Provide Some Runway 

Speaking from experience running a growth equity company, it does make sense to consider the role of a CGO over a CMO for many modern companies.  CEO’s of growth equity companies are stretched fairly thin - at a minimum they need to understand and govern the Product, HR and People, Legal, Finance and Investors, Business development and outward facing relationship as well as report to the board and manage the boards requests/direction.  You can see why having an additional athletic executive on the senior management team focused completely on revenue growth could make a lot of sense. Hiring the right person is critical, but so is measuring their performance, not just their results. This type of role may try many different tactics to enhance growth - some may work and some may not, so they also need to be given the right runway to settle in and succeed. Its also important that they get access they need to leadership, including the CEO, so they can front load their ideas and get feedback from others who have "been trying everything"

Consider Promoting from Within

If you are adding the CGO role to your management team, consider the possibility the right person for the job is already staring you in the face. Academically speaking, someone that already knows your business, is athletic in their talents, and is a strong leader who people respect would have a significant jump start in making the role a success.  

The Final Lesson

Most growth equity companies, especially with outside capital invested, are under immense pressure to grow their top line as quickly as possible.  Even if a CEO has the bandwidth to devote time and energy to revenue growth - they could always use more firepower. The right hire in the CGO position is almost like a second “CEO” that has the benefit of only focusing on one item on the previous list, Revenue Growth.  Just give the hire and the role the time and resources it needs, otherwise you will have failed from the start.

Published on: Jul 28, 2019
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